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Emergency order to increase hospital beds

Increasing hospitals' capacity

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo issued an emergency order Monday for all New York hospitals to make space for more coronavirus patients, increasing their capacity by at least 50%, as the number of people needing medical care is expected to rise.

He said, ideally, hospitals should double their capacity and he repeated calls for volunteers from the medical professions and for more coordinated assistance with getting supplies from the federal government. The state was sending supplies today to Long Island, New York City and other parts of the state.

"I see a wave that will break at one point," Cuomo said of the number of cases, "and the question is, what is the point of the break … Does it crash over the health care system?"

(Long Island had about 7,250 hospital beds and 481 intensive care-specific beds, according to a recent Newsday analysis of New York State Health Department data.)

The numbers as of 4 p.m.: 2,442 confirmed cases in Nassau, 1,458 in Suffolk, 12,305 in New York City and 20,875 statewide.

The risk to health care workers

Health care professionals, including doctors, nurses and pharmacists, said they're being put in danger during the outbreak because of the lack of protective equipment such as masks. 

The shortage has grown so dire that some nurses are making their own masks from fabric, plastic and coffee filters, said AFT, the nation’s second-largest nurses union.

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"Our registered nurse members are reporting shortages of personal protective equipment," said Carl Ginsburg, a spokesman for the New York State Nurses Association. "Should a surge of COVID-19 occur in the next two to three weeks, that shortage will result in serious health risks for nurses and will undercut care for patients."

Some health systems already have started to deal with sick or quarantined staff. For example, Northwell Health said over the weekend that it had 295 staffers, out of 72,000 employees, who were either on paid sick leave or in self-isolation. 

Day 1 of the shutdown

Monday marked the first day that all nonessential businesses throughout the state had to shutdown or have their entire workforce shift to remote operations. The restriction, part of Gov. Cuomo's "New York State on PAUSE" executive order, went into effect 8 p.m. Sunday. Newsday spoke with some of the effected business owners and employees in the final hours before they were forced to closed down.

There’s no end date, though the order expires on April 19, and the governor’s office said it would evaluate then whether it needs to be extended.

Enforcing social distancing

The plan to reduce density in New York City parks that Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to deliver to state officials Monday will also be implemented in Nassau and Suffolk, Gov. Cuomo said during his daily press briefing.

Cuomo gave de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson 24 hours to develop a plan to reduce crowds in public spaces after seeing people pack into the city's parks over the weekend. The plan will also be implemented in Westchester County, Cuomo said. 

“Whatever I get from New York City, I then want to do in Weschester, Nassau Suffolk,” Cuomo said Monday. “I don’t want people saying in New York City, ‘Well, I’ll just get in the car and go to Westchester, or get in the car and go to Nassau.’”

More to know

OTC medicines like Tylenol are becoming hard to find as customers anxious about COVID-19 are sweeping some drugs and medical supplies like distilled water off the shelves.

DMV offices are closed for visits but officials said online transactions, including license renewals, will still be available.

nearly $2 trillion economic rescue package hit another snag in Congress as Democrats blocked another vote to advance it, trying to steer more of the assistance to public health and workers.

Nassau's tax grievance deadline could be extended for the 2021-22 tax year as Republicans who control the county legislature push to hold an emergency vote, citing the pandemic.

School budgets and board elections could also be postponed as representatives call for a statewide delay.

News for you

How are you feeling? We asked our social media followers what's the one word that captures their emotional state around this pandemic. See what they said and send us the one word that describes how you feel.
Answering your questions: Can you get the virus from touching a cardboard box? Are kids less prone? Get the facts from our coronavirus FAQ page.

Free food for needy: During these trying times, restaurateurs are working hard to keep afloat, but know many of you are suffering too. Which is why these eateries are offering free food to those truly in need. 

Rainy day (educational) activities: Kids already complaining their bored, particularly on this dreary-weather day? Here are some apps to download to keep them occupied and learning, and family-friendly science experiments you can do with items you probably already have in your house.

Live updates: Want to stay on top of the latest coronavirus news? Head over to our live blog, where you'll find continuous updates from our reporters, as well as local, state and federal officials, including live video streams of their press conferences.

Plus: Find recommendations for what to watch on Netflix and other streaming services, virtual activities for kids like dance classes, and takeout ideas here.

Commentary

Exposed, but no test

Someone tested positive and I’d recently come in contact with them, writes Coralie Saint-Louis, outreach and engagement manager for nextLI, a project of Newsday Opinion.

It was time to figure out what my next step was. What do I do? Who do I call? Where do I start?

Questions I would later find have no easy answers despite what we’ve been hearing about the coronavirus pandemic.

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As a public service, this article is available for all. Newsday readers support our strong local journalism by subscribing.  Please show you value this important work by becoming a subscriber now.

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